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Author Topic: Justifiable violence?  (Read 2475 times) Average Rating: 0
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chrevbel
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« on: July 08, 2010, 04:38:26 PM »

For some time, I've been of the opinion that I understood the position of those who advocated "No violence; ever."  Disagreed with it, but understood it.  But some recent threads in here have left me wondering if I actually even understand it.  For those who advocate this position (or for anyone else who'd like to comment, I guess), please describe what the moral action is in my hypothetical situation...

There's a concert, with hundreds of people of all ages attending.  A gunman begins wandering the concert hall, randomly shooting people dead.  Armed police officers are present.  What is their proper, moral, justifiable response?

I'm primarily interested in your opinion of the Orthodox view of the matter.  Not whether the Orthodox Church should have armed police officers, but what does (in your opinion) the Church believe is an acceptable, or justifiable, or moral (use whatever modifier you'd like) response by state-sponsored law enforcement.
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2010, 05:05:10 PM »

It would be justifiable, especially for a police officer, to use violent or deadly force (were that necessary) to protect the defenseless. That is his or her duty. And that is a justification of violence--to protect others from harm. The death of the gunman in this case is not murder. The existence of penance for this type of killing in the holy canons does not mean it is immoral or amoral, but is for the spiritual health and recovery of the one who had to take the life.  police
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2010, 06:11:04 PM »

I don't pretend to speak for the Church, but I am Orthodox and I have a permit to carry a pistol.  I would not do so if I had any qualms about using it.  The law allows me to use deadly force in the case of a threat of death or grievous injury to myself or another, any case of sexual assault, or kidnapping.  If faced with these situations, and provided no other solution than to allow them to occur, I would not hesitate to shoot.  I'll deal with whatever penance the Church wants to give me later.
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2010, 07:00:08 PM »

My views on this subject have been abundantly expressed on other threads. But I think we would do well if we sought justifications for peace and nonviolence rather than justifications for violence and killing.


Selam
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2010, 07:02:48 PM »

My views on this subject have been abundantly expressed on other threads. But I think we would do well if we sought justifications for peace and nonviolence rather than justifications for violence and killing.
That's a very good general platitude, but I'm not sure how it applies to the specific scenario chrevbel detailed for us.

In the case he presented, I believe the police have a legal responsibility to protect the law-abiding citizens who have chosen to attend this concert by stopping the killer.  I also believe in using prohibitive force equal to that which the killer is using.  If that means the police must shoot the killer dead, then so be it.  However, the police also have a moral obligation to do everything possible to ensure that no innocents get killed in the crossfire.
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2010, 08:09:17 PM »

My views on this subject have been abundantly expressed on other threads. But I think we would do well if we sought justifications for peace and nonviolence rather than justifications for violence and killing.


Selam

Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum - Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus.  Translated this says "If you desire peace, prepare for war".  Another saying that I believe is "Those who beat their swords into plows will plow for those that do not".  It all boils down to your choice.  If you do not wish to defend yourself and prefer to die rather than hurt someone else, so be it.  You have my admiration, and also my thanks because I do not need to put myself in danger on your behalf.  What I have absolutely no use for is the despicable coward that is too squeamish to provide for his own (or his family's) defense and expects someone else to put themselves in danger for them. 

This is where I differentiate between the police and an armed citizen.  A policeman has chosen his profession to serve and protect (at least on the societal level).  In the scenario above, he should engage the shooter.  It is his job.  Speaking as an armed citizen, if there is a way that I can get out of the situation without engaging the shooter, I will.  I am under no legal obligation (although there may be a moral one) to defend those that will not defend themselves.  If I cannot get out of the situation, or if I am presented with a shot that does not endanger myself or those that I am bound to protect, I will engage the shooter with my own weapons.

For the police, I don't believe there is a question about justifiable homicide in the OP's scenario.  The armed citizen is an area open to discussion, and indeed, this is a subject heavily debated on forums dealing with Concealed Carry and Personal Defense.
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2010, 08:41:49 PM »

For some time, I've been of the opinion that I understood the position of those who advocated "No violence; ever."  Disagreed with it, but understood it.  But some recent threads in here have left me wondering if I actually even understand it.  For those who advocate this position (or for anyone else who'd like to comment, I guess), please describe what the moral action is in my hypothetical situation...

There's a concert, with hundreds of people of all ages attending.  A gunman begins wandering the concert hall, randomly shooting people dead.  Armed police officers are present.  What is their proper, moral, justifiable response?

I'm primarily interested in your opinion of the Orthodox view of the matter.  Not whether the Orthodox Church should have armed police officers, but what does (in your opinion) the Church believe is an acceptable, or justifiable, or moral (use whatever modifier you'd like) response by state-sponsored law enforcement.

I believe that one could potentially say, from a pacifist perspective, that the greatest good in that situation would be for all of the people in that concert to sacrifice their lives, in the name of Christ, for the sake of not participating in the sin of that individual.

I don't agree with that approach and think preserving life is a higher priority, such that preventative violence (and perhaps even lethal force if somehow this is found the only viable option left) is acceptable where the safety of one's self or others is being threatened. But I at least understand it.
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« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2010, 08:43:17 PM »

It would be justifiable, especially for a police officer, to use violent or deadly force (were that necessary) to protect the defenseless. That is his or her duty. And that is a justification of violence--to protect others from harm. The death of the gunman in this case is not murder. The existence of penance for this type of killing in the holy canons does not mean it is immoral or amoral, but is for the spiritual health and recovery of the one who had to take the life.  police

I very much agree with this post.

On top of that, I would like to emphasize that if the police were aware of any chance of disarming the assailant without killing him that choosing to kill him would be sinful.
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« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2010, 08:47:17 PM »

I'll deal with whatever penance the Church wants to give me later.

While I myself may be inclined to this approach, I recognize that there is potentially something problematic about it. And that is if we recognize that the Church would impose penance upon us, and that thus it is possibly regarded as sinful, and that it is thus possibly regarded as having been the wrong choice, that we have to wrestle with our approach being different from that of the Church rather than simply ignoring the Church. Choosing to do things we know to be against the mind of the Church but then submitting to the penance for it because of the pastoral authority of the Church somewhat missing the mark in relating to the Church. The only viable ideal approach then is to change one's approach or to come to the view that the Church does not in fact regard it as the wrong choice.
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« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2010, 08:48:27 PM »

My views on this subject have been abundantly expressed on other threads. But I think we would do well if we sought justifications for peace and nonviolence rather than justifications for violence and killing.


Selam

Unfortunately, Gebre, in this sort of situation, if violence is justifiable as a preventative measure, then technically choosing to not use violence ("justifying peace"), and letting it happen would be technically sinful.
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« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2010, 08:54:45 PM »

I think that we must know that moral ideas are things that have to be applied in the real world.

In the real world, most of the time our options are not between right and wrong, but between wrong and less wrong, or even between good and even better.

To properly understand what is going on in that context, I think the question should be phrased thus:

"What would be worse? To actively kill one person by shooting him, or to passively kill several people by not shooting him?"

Would not there be spiritual vanity in not shooting him? I think that is the case with some pacifists. It's the kind of choice between bad and worse, and then we have to choose bad because this is the one closer or less distant from God. That is why we are called to forgive everybody. We never know what were the other feasible options for that particular person. Probably not even the person knows. Only God can know that and judge in a just way.
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« Reply #11 on: July 08, 2010, 10:44:04 PM »

What I have absolutely no use for is the despicable coward that is too squeamish to provide for his own (or his family's) defense and expects someone else to put themselves in danger for them.  

This is where I differentiate between the police and an armed citizen.  A policeman has chosen his profession to serve and protect (at least on the societal level).  In the scenario above, he should engage the shooter.  It is his job.  Speaking as an armed citizen, if there is a way that I can get out of the situation without engaging the shooter, I will.  I am under no legal obligation (although there may be a moral one) to defend those that will not defend themselves.  If I cannot get out of the situation, or if I am presented with a shot that does not endanger myself or those that I am bound to protect, I will engage the shooter with my own weapons.

I may have misunderstood you, Punch. Are you saying that those who do not arm themselves are "despicable coward(s)" who put their defense in others' hands? If that is so, I most violently disagree. There is no moral imperative for anyone in civilian life to walk around armed. While the carrying of arms by civilians is, under certain circumstances, legal and can be, conditionally, useful if a certain scenario presents itself, to call those who go unarmed cowards reflects a very skewed understanding. Perhaps that is not what you meant. If so, then I apologize.

It seems to me that, were you in a situation with a shooter, you, as an armed citizen, who have taken upon yourself a means of protection via a weapon, are now responsible, after taking care of your family, to deal with the shooter. If you just avoided him, THAT would be cowardice, because you potentially left people to die so you could escape with your life.

Those who choose not to carry weapons cannot outright be called cowards based on that decision alone, nor can they be treated as inferior to those who do choose to carry weapons. What separates the brave from the cowardly are the decisions made in that critical moment. At that juncture, an unarmed man who confronts an armed one, especially in order to save others, is far braver than an armed one who confronts a killer with a weapon.

Armed or not, though, it all makes very little difference in terms of bravery, cowardice, or morality. Somehow, we tend to see victims as helpless. Are we so blind to our Christian faith? Was the Lord helpless? Were the saints? Surely not! The Lord and the martyrs showed their strength, bravery, and manliness in enduring suffering and death. Other saints were killed in another way, but ultimately for the same purpose, in protection of the defenseless. Has their sacrifice been wasted? Were the defenseless at fault because they did not fight for themselves? No way.

For some reason, we like to dwell on hypothetical situations. I guess there's not much for it. But the real substance of these things lies in what actually happens--what people do with the circumstances. I don't think we can see the whole picture--only God can.

Say that crowd in the situation of the OP comes together, rushes the lone gunman and tears him apart limb from limb. Would they be justified? I think you will find little support for this in the Synaxaria. Likewise, say everyone in the crowd decided to sit still and allow the gunman to shoot them all. Are they they to be condemned as cowards? Likewise, I think you will find little support for this. However, in the all too many scenarios enacted all too frequently, the crowd never speaks with one voice and act. Each individual's action and witness is different and based on what God has given him or her.




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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2010, 10:44:45 PM »

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« Reply #13 on: July 08, 2010, 11:00:35 PM »

One thing that always irritates me in discussions like this is how nonviolence is automatically equated with cowardice and a lack of any action to stop evil. Hypothetical scenarios are always created to try and prove how killing another human being is not only justifiable, but also a moral obligation.

Those who kill others in defense of themselves or others will never receive condemnation from me. I will argue against their actions, but I will never condemn them personally. However, it does seem that the Church teaches that killing any human being for any reason is a sin that must be confessed. So, I can't really call something "righteous" which the Church has declared to be sinful.

If it is indeed sinful to allow others to be murdered because we refuse to kill those who are about to murder them, then Christ was a sinner. Certainly He knew that His disciples would be tortured and murdered, and He could have easily prevented their unjust deaths through holy violence. But I shall never condemn the actions of Our Lord; instead, I shall strive to emulate them.

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

But, as I said before (platitudinous as it may be), we would do well to seek rationalizations for peace and nonviolence rather than for violence and killing.  Christ was no coward, nor are those who follow in His footsteps. The life of St. Moses the Ethiopian is a great example of a man who truly repented of a former life of violence. Do we dare condemn him as cowardly because he refused to violently defend his fellow monks?

Nonviolence requires much more strength and bravery than hiding behind a gun. The Scriptures are full of exhortations about not trusting in material weapons or earthly powers. From the Old Testament to the New, we learn that God chooses to do more through those who rely upon the weapons of the Spirit than those who rely upon weapons of the flesh. That's why my personal opinion is that Christians have no place in the military or the police force. These things must inevitably exist in this fallen world, but as Christians we are to forsake the ways of the world and seek the Kingdom of heaven. Those who carry the Cross have not the strength to carry a gun.

It is better to receive blows than to deliver them. It is better to lay down our life for our neighbor than to destroy his life in order to preserve our own. And as for the innocent, God has given us the spiritual weapons to use in their defense. But these spiritual weapons require Christian courage and Spiritual conviction. They are not the weapons of cowards.

You may say, "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't." But I will say, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first;" [St. mark 10:31] and, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." [St. Matthew 23:12]

Selam
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« Reply #14 on: July 08, 2010, 11:53:16 PM »

What I have absolutely no use for is the despicable coward that is too squeamish to provide for his own (or his family's) defense and expects someone else to put themselves in danger for them. 

This is where I differentiate between the police and an armed citizen.  A policeman has chosen his profession to serve and protect (at least on the societal level).  In the scenario above, he should engage the shooter.  It is his job.  Speaking as an armed citizen, if there is a way that I can get out of the situation without engaging the shooter, I will.  I am under no legal obligation (although there may be a moral one) to defend those that will not defend themselves.  If I cannot get out of the situation, or if I am presented with a shot that does not endanger myself or those that I am bound to protect, I will engage the shooter with my own weapons.

I may have misunderstood you, Punch. Are you saying that those who do not arm themselves are "despicable coward" who put their defense in others' hands?

You did misunderstand me.  Those who do not arm themselves fall into several categories.  The first are those like Gebre who conscientiously object to violence and are prepared to take whatever comes as a result.  I actually respect those people, and would likely do what I could to defend them.  I believe I made that clear above, and was not being facetious.

The second are what I run across a lot in my "secular" discussions.  These are the "let the police do it" crowd.  Why should we let the police defend us?  Are their lives any less valuable than ours?  It is one thing to get killed defending someone who is either trying to defend themselves, or are too weak and infirm to do so, as opposed to getting killed defending someone perfectly able to defend themselves, but who chooses to had "dial 911" as their only plan.  I believe that it is the duty of every head of the family to provide for the protection of his family.  I have no respect for those that leave their families to the wolves in the vain hope that someone else will protect them.  When seconds count, the police are only minutes away.  These are those that I referred to above.

Of course, there are other reasons that one would not arm themselves, and I did not mention those above.  There are those to weak or infirm to defend themselves.  Old people, children and the like.  These are the ones that the Police should be defending, and from what I have found, most armed citizens would also defend.

And last, there are those who are just blissfully ignorant of the threat.  "I will not happen to me".  Well, perhaps not, and I sincerely pray they are correct.  I really don't like the odds.  So, if I were to only choose one word for each of these (at the real risk of being terribly simplistic), they would be:

1. Holy
2. Coward
3. Innocent
4. Naive

But that is just my opinion.   

As to the rest of your post, I find no disagreement between us.   
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« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2010, 12:14:01 AM »

One thing that always irritates me in discussions like this is how nonviolence is automatically equated with cowardice and a lack of any action to stop evil. Hypothetical scenarios are always created to try and prove how killing another human being is not only justifiable, but also a moral obligation.

<snip>

You may say, "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't." But I will say, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first;" [St. mark 10:31] and, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." [St. Matthew 23:12]

Selam

Gebre, don't try to convince me since I do not share your calling.  I am more in tune to the spirit of the Orthodox Kings and soldiers that fought the temporal forces of evil, often with Saint's blessings, and often being numbered as saints themselves.  They have given you the luxury (with God's help) to hold the views that you hold in relative safety.  St. Moses was one example that you hold dear. St. Alexander Nevsky is one that I hold dear.  As he said, ""Whoever will come to us with a sword, from a sword will perish."

And as to your last statement, the most deadly people that I know are also some of the most humble - particularly when you deal in the Eastern martial arts. 
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« Reply #16 on: July 09, 2010, 12:45:16 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.
But you're overlooking one key fact.  The scenario presented in the OP presents to us police officers.  If you are to truly tell us what you would do in the scenario presented, you would first have to imagine yourself a police officer.  A police officer is most likely trained to handle situations like those and will do in that situation what he's trained to do.  If you, as a police officer, were to engage the killer the way you said you would, I wonder how successful you would be as a police officer, particularly as a dead one.  Would that even be consistent with your professional training.

Now, you can certainly tell us that you think it wrong for you, an Orthodox Christian, to be a cop.  And you can tell us what you would do in that situation as the civilian you are.  But for the scenario presented in the OP, your logic breaks down if you first fail to account for the fact that chrevbel presented to us the image of professionally trained police officers.  IOW, your reasoning just doesn't apply if you don't first imagine yourself a cop.
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« Reply #17 on: July 09, 2010, 12:49:31 AM »

One thing that always irritates me in discussions like this is how nonviolence is automatically equated with cowardice and a lack of any action to stop evil. Hypothetical scenarios are always created to try and prove how killing another human being is not only justifiable, but also a moral obligation.

<snip>

You may say, "Those who beat their swords into plowshares will plow for those who don't." But I will say, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first;" [St. mark 10:31] and, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." [St. Matthew 23:12]

Selam

Gebre, don't try to convince me since I do not share your calling.  I am more in tune to the spirit of the Orthodox Kings and soldiers that fought the temporal forces of evil, often with Saint's blessings, and often being numbered as saints themselves.  They have given you the luxury (with God's help) to hold the views that you hold in relative safety.  St. Moses was one example that you hold dear. St. Alexander Nevsky is one that I hold dear.  As he said, ""Whoever will come to us with a sword, from a sword will perish."
Indeed!  The spiritual father of Russian Christianity, St. Sergius of Radonezh, is reported to have blessed Russian soldiers to fight and defeat the Tatars in the Battle of Kulikovo Field after all attempts at a peaceful solution to the conflict failed.
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« Reply #18 on: July 09, 2010, 12:50:01 AM »

The Lord and the martyrs showed their strength, bravery, and manliness in enduring suffering and death.

Don't get me wrong in this, as I very much liked all the rest of your post.

But I am again sensing a chauvinism present in these forums.

"showed their... manliness"?

As if the martyrs were all male?

As if being a martyr is even about manliness, rather than an attribute common to men and women?
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« Reply #19 on: July 09, 2010, 12:52:24 AM »

The Lord and the martyrs showed their strength, bravery, and manliness in enduring suffering and death.

Don't get me wrong in this, as I very much liked all the rest of your post.

But I am again sensing a chauvinism present in these forums.

"showed their... manliness"?

As if the martyrs were all male?

As if being a martyr is even about manliness, rather than an attribute common to men and women?
Like courage.
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« Reply #20 on: July 09, 2010, 12:57:10 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.
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« Reply #21 on: July 09, 2010, 01:27:20 AM »

Anybody who has killed someone-for whatever reason, in whatever circumstances- is perpetually barred from entering the clerical state.
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« Reply #22 on: July 09, 2010, 02:14:20 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam
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« Reply #23 on: July 09, 2010, 02:14:21 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.
But you're overlooking one key fact.  The scenario presented in the OP presents to us police officers.  If you are to truly tell us what you would do in the scenario presented, you would first have to imagine yourself a police officer.  A police officer is most likely trained to handle situations like those and will do in that situation what he's trained to do.  If you, as a police officer, were to engage the killer the way you said you would, I wonder how successful you would be as a police officer, particularly as a dead one.  Would that even be consistent with your professional training.

Now, you can certainly tell us that you think it wrong for you, an Orthodox Christian, to be a cop.  And you can tell us what you would do in that situation as the civilian you are.  But for the scenario presented in the OP, your logic breaks down if you first fail to account for the fact that chrevbel presented to us the image of professionally trained police officers.  IOW, your reasoning just doesn't apply if you don't first imagine yourself a cop.

No, I didn't overlook that fact. I explained my position on Christian involvement in the military and police force.


Selam
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« Reply #24 on: July 09, 2010, 02:46:31 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.
But you're overlooking one key fact.  The scenario presented in the OP presents to us police officers.  If you are to truly tell us what you would do in the scenario presented, you would first have to imagine yourself a police officer.  A police officer is most likely trained to handle situations like those and will do in that situation what he's trained to do.  If you, as a police officer, were to engage the killer the way you said you would, I wonder how successful you would be as a police officer, particularly as a dead one.  Would that even be consistent with your professional training.

Now, you can certainly tell us that you think it wrong for you, an Orthodox Christian, to be a cop.  And you can tell us what you would do in that situation as the civilian you are.  But for the scenario presented in the OP, your logic breaks down if you first fail to account for the fact that chrevbel presented to us the image of professionally trained police officers.  IOW, your reasoning just doesn't apply if you don't first imagine yourself a cop.

No, I didn't overlook that fact. I explained my position on Christian involvement in the military and police force.


Selam
Then let me rephrase myself.  Let's put aside the fact that you don't believe Orthodox Christians should serve in the police, and let's just assume for the sake of this exercise that you are in fact a police officer.  Would you, as a police officer, try to wrestle the gun away from the killer, or would you do what you are trained to do in that situation?  That's the scenario chrevbel is asking us to think about.  Saying that you don't believe we should even be police officers is certainly a valid position to espouse, but it doesn't address the question of what you would do in the scenario presented, assuming that you already are a police officer.
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« Reply #25 on: July 09, 2010, 03:20:52 AM »

Quote from: Gebre Menfes Kidus
...the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists.
The difference is that abortion is not currently against the law.  Murder is.  (Whether or not abortion should be against the law is a totally different topic, and not germane to this particular discussion.)  The question is what is a valid, moral response for a duly constituted law enforcement officer in stopping illegal violence?

I appreciate, and I think I understand, your position of "use the minimal force necessary".  That seems valid, pretty well matches my own personal view, and I believe aligns well with current law enforcement rules and practice.  A reasonable follow-up question is "What if it fails?"  Is escalation a valid option, in your opinion?

And as one response pointed out, I did indeed specifically ask about police in the OP.  I'd always be interested in hearing one's "here's what I'd do" positions, but in this thread I'm truly more interested in Orthodox beliefs concerning duly constituted law enforcement agencies in legitimately governed states.
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« Reply #26 on: July 09, 2010, 03:35:03 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.
But you're overlooking one key fact.  The scenario presented in the OP presents to us police officers.  If you are to truly tell us what you would do in the scenario presented, you would first have to imagine yourself a police officer.  A police officer is most likely trained to handle situations like those and will do in that situation what he's trained to do.  If you, as a police officer, were to engage the killer the way you said you would, I wonder how successful you would be as a police officer, particularly as a dead one.  Would that even be consistent with your professional training.

Now, you can certainly tell us that you think it wrong for you, an Orthodox Christian, to be a cop.  And you can tell us what you would do in that situation as the civilian you are.  But for the scenario presented in the OP, your logic breaks down if you first fail to account for the fact that chrevbel presented to us the image of professionally trained police officers.  IOW, your reasoning just doesn't apply if you don't first imagine yourself a cop.

No, I didn't overlook that fact. I explained my position on Christian involvement in the military and police force.


Selam
Then let me rephrase myself.  Let's put aside the fact that you don't believe Orthodox Christians should serve in the police, and let's just assume for the sake of this exercise that you are in fact a police officer.  Would you, as a police officer, try to wrestle the gun away from the killer, or would you do what you are trained to do in that situation?  That's the scenario chrevbel is asking us to think about.  Saying that you don't believe we should even be police officers is certainly a valid position to espouse, but it doesn't address the question of what you would do in the scenario presented, assuming that you already are a police officer.

Since I would never be a police officer, I can't comment on that. It would be like asking if I were an abortionist, would I perform late term abortions. (PLEASE understand that I am NOT equating the police with abortionists! Just saying that I could never imagine myself in either situation, so the scenario itself is contrary to my philosophical position.)


Selam
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« Reply #27 on: July 09, 2010, 03:45:56 AM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence. I would certainly try to stop it.
But you're overlooking one key fact.  The scenario presented in the OP presents to us police officers.  If you are to truly tell us what you would do in the scenario presented, you would first have to imagine yourself a police officer.  A police officer is most likely trained to handle situations like those and will do in that situation what he's trained to do.  If you, as a police officer, were to engage the killer the way you said you would, I wonder how successful you would be as a police officer, particularly as a dead one.  Would that even be consistent with your professional training.

Now, you can certainly tell us that you think it wrong for you, an Orthodox Christian, to be a cop.  And you can tell us what you would do in that situation as the civilian you are.  But for the scenario presented in the OP, your logic breaks down if you first fail to account for the fact that chrevbel presented to us the image of professionally trained police officers.  IOW, your reasoning just doesn't apply if you don't first imagine yourself a cop.

No, I didn't overlook that fact. I explained my position on Christian involvement in the military and police force.


Selam
Then let me rephrase myself.  Let's put aside the fact that you don't believe Orthodox Christians should serve in the police, and let's just assume for the sake of this exercise that you are in fact a police officer.  Would you, as a police officer, try to wrestle the gun away from the killer, or would you do what you are trained to do in that situation?  That's the scenario chrevbel is asking us to think about.  Saying that you don't believe we should even be police officers is certainly a valid position to espouse, but it doesn't address the question of what you would do in the scenario presented, assuming that you already are a police officer.

Since I would never be a police officer, I can't comment on that.
Fair enuff. Wink
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« Reply #28 on: July 09, 2010, 10:41:02 AM »

The Lord and the martyrs showed their strength, bravery, and manliness in enduring suffering and death.

Don't get me wrong in this, as I very much liked all the rest of your post.

But I am again sensing a chauvinism present in these forums.

"showed their... manliness"?

As if the martyrs were all male?

As if being a martyr is even about manliness, rather than an attribute common to men and women?

If manliness was a quality pertaining to all men, all men would be manly. This is not the case.

If manliness were a quality pertaining only to men, we would not call St. Xenia of Petersburg "manly-minded."

Manliness, as a virtue of courage, strength, steadfastness, honor (philotimo) exists in both men and women. Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos says that nuns must possess some manliness, and monks must have some qualities of a mother. It is about virtuous attributes, not chauvinism. Of course, the modern feminism that has arisen since the 60s is pretty much opposed to Orthodox understanding. But, then again, so is chauvinism. According to Orthodox understanding in liturgics and lives of the saints, women may be "weaker," but they are not by any means inferior. This is a big difference. Chauvinism skews this traditional teaching. Feminism, in an attempt to correct it, skews it further.
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« Reply #29 on: July 10, 2010, 11:19:37 AM »

Anybody who has killed someone-for whatever reason, in whatever circumstances- is perpetually barred from entering the clerical state.

As they should be.  The Priest is the icon of Christ, and Christ came to save and not kill.  For those of us who have chosen the sword, we must be content with not having reached the ideal of the Priest, and be content to serve the penance for our choice.  But don't ever try to harm a Priest in the presence of a Cossack.
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« Reply #30 on: July 10, 2010, 11:22:14 AM »

The Lord and the martyrs showed their strength, bravery, and manliness in enduring suffering and death.

Don't get me wrong in this, as I very much liked all the rest of your post.

But I am again sensing a chauvinism present in these forums.

"showed their... manliness"?

As if the martyrs were all male?

As if being a martyr is even about manliness, rather than an attribute common to men and women?

If manliness was a quality pertaining to all men, all men would be manly. This is not the case.

If manliness were a quality pertaining only to men, we would not call St. Xenia of Petersburg "manly-minded."

Manliness, as a virtue of courage, strength, steadfastness, honor (philotimo) exists in both men and women. Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos says that nuns must possess some manliness, and monks must have some qualities of a mother. It is about virtuous attributes, not chauvinism. Of course, the modern feminism that has arisen since the 60s is pretty much opposed to Orthodox understanding. But, then again, so is chauvinism. According to Orthodox understanding in liturgics and lives of the saints, women may be "weaker," but they are not by any means inferior. This is a big difference. Chauvinism skews this traditional teaching. Feminism, in an attempt to correct it, skews it further.

Very well put.
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« Reply #31 on: July 10, 2010, 11:38:05 AM »


Since I would never be a police officer, I can't comment on that. It would be like asking if I were an abortionist, would I perform late term abortions. (PLEASE understand that I am NOT equating the police with abortionists! Just saying that I could never imagine myself in either situation, so the scenario itself is contrary to my philosophical position.)

Selam

Gebre,

I assume that you believe that people have different callings, and that these callings would require somewhat different points of view.  It is possible in my mind that you have been called for a ministry that requires non-violence.  A Priest would have this calling.  But I believe it was Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov (sp?) who pointed out in "The Arena" that in an imperfect world, we cannot all be monks and Priests.  Someone needs to build the roads and buildings, generate the electricity, put out the fires, stop the lawless from preying on the innocent, and the rest of what comprises civilization.  This is, of course, provided that you do not believe that any civilization is within the will of God.  I happen to like air conditioning, dry living quarters and flush toilets, and none of these were made by monks.  I believe that the policeman can also be a calling.  Did not soldiers ask John the Baptist what they must do for salvation?  Did he tell them to desert?  No. He told them not to intimidate anyone, not to accuse falsely, and to be content with their wages (good advice to police and soldiers today).  He did not tell them to quit, even though the very nature of being a soldier means that you are trained to kill, and given the political situation at the time, you would likely be required to use that skill.  In other words, they were to perform their calling with honor and not abuse their office.
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« Reply #32 on: July 10, 2010, 05:52:09 PM »


Since I would never be a police officer, I can't comment on that. It would be like asking if I were an abortionist, would I perform late term abortions. (PLEASE understand that I am NOT equating the police with abortionists! Just saying that I could never imagine myself in either situation, so the scenario itself is contrary to my philosophical position.)

Selam

Gebre,

I assume that you believe that people have different callings, and that these callings would require somewhat different points of view.  It is possible in my mind that you have been called for a ministry that requires non-violence.  A Priest would have this calling.  But I believe it was Saint Ignatius Brianchaninov (sp?) who pointed out in "The Arena" that in an imperfect world, we cannot all be monks and Priests.  Someone needs to build the roads and buildings, generate the electricity, put out the fires, stop the lawless from preying on the innocent, and the rest of what comprises civilization.  This is, of course, provided that you do not believe that any civilization is within the will of God.  I happen to like air conditioning, dry living quarters and flush toilets, and none of these were made by monks.  I believe that the policeman can also be a calling.  Did not soldiers ask John the Baptist what they must do for salvation?  Did he tell them to desert?  No. He told them not to intimidate anyone, not to accuse falsely, and to be content with their wages (good advice to police and soldiers today).  He did not tell them to quit, even though the very nature of being a soldier means that you are trained to kill, and given the political situation at the time, you would likely be required to use that skill.  In other words, they were to perform their calling with honor and not abuse their office.

Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.

2. Because I view this country as an inherently evil nation, then I see the military and police force as primarily protecting evil more than preserving the good. For example, the police have never been able to keep my house from being broken into, but they were always present to harass me when I used to peacefully minister outside the abortion clinic. 

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.

Well, I realize my views are not popular. I also sincerely believe that good Christians can disagree on this matter. But I will nevertheless continue to argue that unconditional peace, love, and nonviolence is the life to which Our Lord has called all of His children.


Selam
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« Reply #33 on: July 10, 2010, 06:19:01 PM »

Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.
But the police serve to protect human life, not to destroy it intentionally. I imagine they are trained to kill only as an absolute last resort when all other means of attaining non-lethal results are exhausted or the threat to human life is very real and immediate. Your insinuation, for the sake of your argument, that the police serve to destroy human life intentionally is, IMO, quite unfair.

2. Because I view this country as an inherently evil nation, then I see the military and police force as primarily protecting evil more than preserving the good. For example, the police have never been able to keep my house from being broken into, but they were always present to harass me when I used to peacefully minister outside the abortion clinic.
1.  AISI, the police aren't paid to see to it that your house doesn't get broken into, since such would require that they either offer you favoritism by guarding your house continuously while they're unable to guard everyone else's house the same way or that they be omnipresent. They're paid to respond quickly when you call to note that your house is being broken into or to investigate the crime scene and search for the perp after your house has already been broken into. Common sense tells me that the police can do very little to actually prevent such crimes as burglary.
2.  Are you sure the police were aware that you were ministering peacefully? Maybe they never got the word regarding your motivation.
3.  How were the police "harassing" you during your peaceful ministry outside abortion clinics?
4.  What were you doing that would constitute "peaceful ministry"? Was this "peaceful ministry" conducted in a legal manner? I would imagine that abortion clinics are guaranteed the same protection of "no trespassing" laws as any other business or home. Do they not have the same right to have the police enforce these "no trespassing" laws as anyone else? Maybe your reasons for trespassing are holy and right and you're prepared to accept willingly the civil penalty for your peaceful disobedience--there is certainly Christian precedent for this, so I will not condemn such conduct--but I wouldn't let this drive me to conclude that the police are driven by evil motives. They're just doing their job to enforce the law, which includes laws against trespassing on private property.

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."
But we're not talking about soldiering and soldiers here.

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.
But, as I pointed out a few posts ago, even some monastics recognized the use of lethal force as necessary and justifiable after all non-violent means to a solution had been exhausted.
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« Reply #34 on: July 10, 2010, 08:56:19 PM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam

Why then does the section I bolded sound like you are talking about using non-lethal violence to disarm the gunman?
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« Reply #35 on: July 10, 2010, 09:07:51 PM »

Anybody who has killed someone-for whatever reason, in whatever circumstances- is perpetually barred from entering the clerical state.

As they should be.  The Priest is the icon of Christ, and Christ came to save and not kill.  For those of us who have chosen the sword, we must be content with not having reached the ideal of the Priest, and be content to serve the penance for our choice.  But don't ever try to harm a Priest in the presence of a Cossack.

I know the reality of a Priest as an icon of Christ is a particular one, but is not Baptism/Chrismation also an ordination to be an icon of Christ in a more basic way?
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« Reply #36 on: July 10, 2010, 09:13:30 PM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam

Why then does the section I bolded sound like you are talking about using non-lethal violence to disarm the gunman?

Perhaps a distinction can be made between force and violence. But I imagine that wresting a gun away from a madman would probably involve some violent force. As I said, I am not merely a "non-lethalist," but neither would I sit idly by in such a circumstance. But by making the personal choice not to own a gun, and not to actively participate in the military or police force, I am preparing NOT to kill. Preparing NOT to kill is not the same thing as preparing to remain passive in the face of evil. Pacifism is not passive-ism.


Selam
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« Reply #37 on: July 10, 2010, 09:29:24 PM »

Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.
But the police serve to protect human life, not to destroy it intentionally. I imagine they are trained to kill only as an absolute last resort when all other means of attaining non-lethal results are exhausted or the threat to human life is very real and immediate. Your insinuation, for the sake of your argument, that the police serve to destroy human life intentionally is, IMO, quite unfair.

Just accept my words as I state them. Don't read  anything more into them.

2. Because I view this country as an inherently evil nation, then I see the military and police force as primarily protecting evil more than preserving the good. For example, the police have never been able to keep my house from being broken into, but they were always present to harass me when I used to peacefully minister outside the abortion clinic.
1.  AISI, the police aren't paid to see to it that your house doesn't get broken into, since such would require that they either offer you favoritism by guarding your house continuously while they're unable to guard everyone else's house the same way or that they be omnipresent. They're paid to respond quickly when you call to note that your house is being broken into or to investigate the crime scene and search for the perp after your house has already been broken into. Common sense tells me that the police can do very little to actually prevent such crimes as burglary.
2.  Are you sure the police were aware that you were ministering peacefully? Maybe they never got the word regarding your motivation.
3.  How were the police "harassing" you during your peaceful ministry outside abortion clinics?
4.  What were you doing that would constitute "peaceful ministry"? Was this "peaceful ministry" conducted in a legal manner? I would imagine that abortion clinics are guaranteed the same protection of "no trespassing" laws as any other business or home. Do they not have the same right to have the police enforce these "no trespassing" laws as anyone else? Maybe your reasons for trespassing are holy and right and you're prepared to accept willingly the civil penalty for your peaceful disobedience--there is certainly Christian precedent for this, so I will not condemn such conduct--but I wouldn't let this drive me to conclude that the police are driven by evil motives. They're just doing their job to enforce the law, which includes laws against trespassing on private property.

I obeyed the law when I was ministering at the clinic. However, I was assaulted on numerous occasions and the police never did anything about it. Believe me, my pacifism has been severly tested! My experience is that the police are never there when you need them, but always present to harrass you for no reason. My wife and I have been harrassed by Mississippi police simply because we are an interracial couple. I am not being unfair in saying this. I am very careful not to accuse anyone of racism unfairly. But anyway, that's a different issue I guess. My subjective experience with the police is not the issue. My view remains the same: Christians should not serve in the military or the police force, since to do so requires preparation to kill human beings created in the image of God.

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."
But we're not talking about soldiering and soldiers here.

But I was talking about the military and the police force.

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.
But, as I pointed out a few posts ago, even some monastics recognized the use of lethal force as necessary and justifiable after all non-violent means to a solution had been exhausted.


And I gave the example of St. Moses the Ethiopian who refused to kill or violently defend his fellow monks. I'm sure there are some monks who would hold a different opinion than I do, but that doesn't change my view on the issue.

Selam
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« Reply #38 on: July 10, 2010, 11:12:43 PM »

Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.
But the police serve to protect human life, not to destroy it intentionally. I imagine they are trained to kill only as an absolute last resort when all other means of attaining non-lethal results are exhausted or the threat to human life is very real and immediate. Your insinuation, for the sake of your argument, that the police serve to destroy human life intentionally is, IMO, quite unfair.

Just accept my words as I state them. Don't read  anything more into them.
But when you post such words on a thread where the subject of discussion is the police and their use of violent force, how else is one to understand your words except as a reference to the police?  Post the same words on a thread devoted solely to the military and their use of force, and your words will take on a wholly different meaning to the reader.  It's not solely about the reader reading into your words thoughts you had no intent of communicating; it's also about you making sure you communicate clearly what you want to say so that your audience understands you correctly.  The ability to craft your words so they fit the context in which you give them is a big part of that.

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."
But we're not talking about soldiering and soldiers here.

But I was talking about the military and the police force.
1. Police officers are not soldiers.
2. You would have made the connection between Tertullian's words and the police more clear if you had also said something like, "I take Tertullian's words to apply also to the police."

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.
But, as I pointed out a few posts ago, even some monastics recognized the use of lethal force as necessary and justifiable after all non-violent means to a solution had been exhausted.

And I gave the example of St. Moses the Ethiopian who refused to kill or violently defend his fellow monks. I'm sure there are some monks who would hold a different opinion than I do, but that doesn't change my view on the issue.
I offered the example of St. Sergius of Radonezh to show that there is no monastic consensus to support your opinion that Christians should avoid at all costs professions that may require the use of lethal force against other human persons.  Some monks showed the example you cite, but not all.  What you offer is a valid theologoumen that certainly has foundation in the teaching of the Church, but your theological opinion is not universal.  If you want to follow it and try to convince all Christians to agree with you, I would support your efforts as a worthy endeavor, even though I disagree with you.  Just recognize that your opinion doesn't have universal support from our Holy Tradition and that many will therefore not find you convincing.
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« Reply #39 on: July 10, 2010, 11:16:58 PM »


Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.

2. Because I view this country as an inherently evil nation, then I see the military and police force as primarily protecting evil more than preserving the good. For example, the police have never been able to keep my house from being broken into, but they were always present to harass me when I used to peacefully minister outside the abortion clinic. 

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.

Well, I realize my views are not popular. I also sincerely believe that good Christians can disagree on this matter. But I will nevertheless continue to argue that unconditional peace, love, and nonviolence is the life to which Our Lord has called all of His children.

Selam

My friend,

1.  I do not disagree with you.  In fact, I acknowledge these callings are different. 

2.  I agree completely.  That is why I carry a pistol with me at all times.

3.  Christ said that if you do not have a sword, sell your cloak and by one.  Tertullian, on the other hand, is widely regarded as a Montanist heretic.  Also, Peter was disarmed so that he would not attempt to stop Christ's mission here on earth.  I am not dying for anyone's sins and redemption, so I do not see blasting my attacker in the same light as what happened at the Garden on the fateful night.

4.  Again, you subscribe to a "one size fits all" Christianity.  I do not.

I admire your view, and respect it in spite of my disagreement.  I also believe that it is important that you continue to espouse your view since it provides a check on the potential excesses of those who hold my beliefs.

May you always have the Peace you seek!
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« Reply #40 on: July 11, 2010, 01:34:28 AM »

I must ask Gebre- what do you teach your children to do then?

My kids are taught to resist fighting at all costs. If they are being teased or lightly roughed up then they are to just turn the other cheek and walk away. But if a person is set upon beating my child my children are aware of how to defend themselves. I do not want to raise my children to believe it is their Christian duty to be a punching bag. There are times when it is NECESSARY to defend oneself. I have three daughters, we have taught them (the older two, the youngest will learn when she is older) quite effective and VERY VIOLENT means to defend themselves against a rapist. Our son is taught to physically intervene in the case when he sees someone else being hurt. I would rather have children that defend themselves and others then children that are beaten, or watch as others are beaten. When one defends themselves there is always a possibility that it will become lethal. One good blow upward at the right angle/time will kill someone. Your views may sound simple to you, but they are anything but when you apply them to those outside yourself.

Funny story;

My second eldest daughter is very tiny, girly and seemingly demure. One day at the park some boys were harassing her older sister, calling her names and such. Miss O's feelings were hurt, but she knew that it was a situation to walk away from. Wooster was really angry and I had to bring her aside to tell her that the name calling is hardly something to get riled about. She told me; "Wish me had my Dora bat, I teach them a wesson." Her Dora bat is a plastic bat encased in cotton batting. There is nothing about it that could so much as kill an ant. I walked away for a bit to compose myself because I was laughing so hard, and then I talked about what situations are ones to walk away from and which ones are the ones to engage in defending yourself. Wooster is a real spitfire! Here is a photo of the face of violence  Grin
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« Reply #41 on: July 11, 2010, 01:43:56 AM »


Yes brother, I am familiar with your argument. It is a position many if not most Christians hold. I have a different view, for a few reasons:

1. I see a great difference between buiding roads, schools, and other secular vocations and jobs that involve the intentional destruction of human life.

2. Because I view this country as an inherently evil nation, then I see the military and police force as primarily protecting evil more than preserving the good. For example, the police have never been able to keep my house from being broken into, but they were always present to harass me when I used to peacefully minister outside the abortion clinic. 

3. I agree with the words of Tertullian, who said, "Christ, in disarming Peter, disarmed every soldier."

4. I personally believe that peace and nonviolence are not merely special callings for some Christians, but moral obligations for all of us. We need not be monks to commit ourselves to lives of unconditional love and nonviolence. It would be like saying that, "Some are called to be Christians, but others may be called to lives of atheism or Islam, etc. We respect those who are called to be Christians, but not everyone is called to follow Christ." We know how absurd that would sound. But I think many people make the same error when they attempt to relegate a life of peace and nonviolence to monastics or those with a certian calling, rather than applying it to themselves.

Well, I realize my views are not popular. I also sincerely believe that good Christians can disagree on this matter. But I will nevertheless continue to argue that unconditional peace, love, and nonviolence is the life to which Our Lord has called all of His children.

Selam

My friend,

1.  I do not disagree with you.  In fact, I acknowledge these callings are different. 

2.  I agree completely.  That is why I carry a pistol with me at all times.

3.  Christ said that if you do not have a sword, sell your cloak and by one.  Tertullian, on the other hand, is widely regarded as a Montanist heretic.  Also, Peter was disarmed so that he would not attempt to stop Christ's mission here on earth.  I am not dying for anyone's sins and redemption, so I do not see blasting my attacker in the same light as what happened at the Garden on the fateful night.

4.  Again, you subscribe to a "one size fits all" Christianity.  I do not.

I admire your view, and respect it in spite of my disagreement.  I also believe that it is important that you continue to espouse your view since it provides a check on the potential excesses of those who hold my beliefs.

May you always have the Peace you seek!


Thank you my brother. I appreciate the good discussion.

I agree that one of the reasons- and perhaps the main reason - that Our Lord commanded Peter to put away his sword was because Peter's violent actions were indeed interfering with God's redemptive plan. But I also think Our Lord's command extended to all of His subsequent followers, since He followed His command to Peter with a universal statement, "...all who live by the sword, die by the sword."

We also have to remember that just as Christ's individual nonviolent act of redemption brought salvation to mankind, so God will also work miraculous acts of redemption through our own nonviolent sacrifices. Of course our nonviolent commitment to peace will not atone for the sins of the world, but it will be a great witness to the Gospel and perhaps lead even our murderers to repentance and faith. But when we take the life of another human being - for any reason - we have nullified the possibility for them to repent and we have negated any hope of their redemption in this temporal world.

BTW, I realize that Tertullian is regarded as a heretic by many; but I think he was right with the quote above.

Again, I appreciate the good and amicable discussion. Pursuing peace includes debating and discussing difficult issues such as these with a spirit of Christian charity and brotherly love. When we do so, we sharpen one another and we all become better Christians. So thanks again my brother. Smiley


Selam
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« Reply #42 on: July 11, 2010, 01:46:55 AM »

I must ask Gebre- what do you teach your children to do then?

My kids are taught to resist fighting at all costs. If they are being teased or lightly roughed up then they are to just turn the other cheek and walk away. But if a person is set upon beating my child my children are aware of how to defend themselves. I do not want to raise my children to believe it is their Christian duty to be a punching bag. There are times when it is NECESSARY to defend oneself. I have three daughters, we have taught them quite effective and VERY VIOLENT means to defend themselves against a rapist. Our son is taught to physically intervene in the case when he sees someone else being hurt. I would rather have children that defend themselves and others then children that are beaten, or watch as others are beaten. When one defends themselves there is always a possibility that it will become lethal. I good blow upward at the right angle/time will kill someone. Your views may sound simple to you, but they are anything but when you apply them to those outside yourself.

Funny story;

My second eldest daughter is very tiny, girly and seemingly demure. One day at the park some boys were harassing her older sister, calling her names and such. Miss O's feelings were hurt, but she knew that it was a situation to walk away from. Wooster was really angry and I had to bring her aside to tell her that the name calling is hardly something to get riled about. She told me; "Wish me had my Dora bat, I teach them a wesson." Her Dora bat is a plastic bat encased in cotton batting. There is nothing about it that could so much as kill an ant. I walked away for a bit to compose myself because I was laughing so hard, and then I talked about what situations are ones to walk away from and which ones are the ones to engage in defending yourself. Wooster is a real spitfire! Here is a photo of the face of violence  Grin


Your instructions to your children about fighting, bullying, self-defense, etc. sound almost identical to what I teach my own children.


Selam
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« Reply #43 on: July 11, 2010, 08:16:16 AM »


Thank you my brother. I appreciate the good discussion.

I agree that one of the reasons- and perhaps the main reason - that Our Lord commanded Peter to put away his sword was because Peter's violent actions were indeed interfering with God's redemptive plan. But I also think Our Lord's command extended to all of His subsequent followers, since He followed His command to Peter with a universal statement, "...all who live by the sword, die by the sword."

We also have to remember that just as Christ's individual nonviolent act of redemption brought salvation to mankind, so God will also work miraculous acts of redemption through our own nonviolent sacrifices. Of course our nonviolent commitment to peace will not atone for the sins of the world, but it will be a great witness to the Gospel and perhaps lead even our murderers to repentance and faith. But when we take the life of another human being - for any reason - we have nullified the possibility for them to repent and we have negated any hope of their redemption in this temporal world.

BTW, I realize that Tertullian is regarded as a heretic by many; but I think he was right with the quote above.

Again, I appreciate the good and amicable discussion. Pursuing peace includes debating and discussing difficult issues such as these with a spirit of Christian charity and brotherly love. When we do so, we sharpen one another and we all become better Christians. So thanks again my brother. Smiley

Selam

You have brought up two good points that every armed Christian must deal with.  The first is a universal Truth, and Moses the Egyptian also knew this when his end came.  He had lived much of his life by the sword, and even though he repented and became a Saint, he died by the sword.  There are worse ways to go, however we must be careful that we do not become like the character in the John Wayne movie "the Shootist" that looked for this way out by provoking others.

The second point you made is one that I ponder the hardest.  I was told by an old Serbian priest who had been a Captain of Chetniks in WWII, and who's brother had been murdered by Moslems during the latest Balkan Wars, that when we kill another human being, we take his sins upon ourselves since we have ended his ability to repent.  Believe me, while I strongly favor the CONCEPT of killing in self defense, and arm myself to do so, I pray daily that I never have to (thank God that the four armed encounters that I have been involved with ended without firing  a shot).  Like Peter the Aleut has said in this thread, killing in self defense or defense of others (including war) should ONLY be done as the last result AFTER every other non-violent method has been tried and failed.  Even then, those of us who conscientiously train with weapons also study other martial arts so that we can deal with a situation without having to result in deadly force.  In fact, that is why the (much overused in my opinion) TASER was invented.   
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« Reply #44 on: July 11, 2010, 11:38:07 AM »

But I also think Our Lord's command extended to all of His subsequent followers, since He followed His command to Peter with a universal statement, "...all who live by the sword, die by the sword."
Agreed.  However, I believe there is a difference between living by the sword, and being reluctantly willing to use the sword.  There are situations (the OP being one attempted example) where I believe the greater good is served by the restrained, reasoned, calculated use of violence.  I also believe this view is in line with Orthodox teaching.

A reasonable question to ask is whether this argument generalizes.  I think it does.  Christ once threw out the moneychangers from the temple.  But no one would interpret his actions as condoning overturning merchant tables wherever one sees them.  No.  Christ's actions that day were restrained, reasoned, and calculated.  He wasn't advocating living by anger; he was demonstrating by example how anger can be appropriately vented.

God doesn't want us to use violence.  But he acknowledges that in a fallen world, the range of human responses includes some less than ideal alternatives.  Does this have analogous situations?  It most certainly does.  Our initial guidance in the Garden of Eden was to eat plants.  Only after we sinned did God tell us that eating animals was acceptable, as well.  It's yet another situation where he's acknowledging that there are justifiable actions on our part that may not be what he ultimately desires for us, or what he originally planned for us.
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« Reply #45 on: July 11, 2010, 06:53:32 PM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam

Why then does the section I bolded sound like you are talking about using non-lethal violence to disarm the gunman?

Perhaps a distinction can be made between force and violence. But I imagine that wresting a gun away from a madman would probably involve some violent force. As I said, I am not merely a "non-lethalist," but neither would I sit idly by in such a circumstance. But by making the personal choice not to own a gun, and not to actively participate in the military or police force, I am preparing NOT to kill. Preparing NOT to kill is not the same thing as preparing to remain passive in the face of evil. Pacifism is not passive-ism.


Selam

I'm pretty sure that your willingness to use some form of violence, though not a lethal form, technically means that you're not a strict pacifist.
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« Reply #46 on: July 11, 2010, 07:21:22 PM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam

Why then does the section I bolded sound like you are talking about using non-lethal violence to disarm the gunman?

Perhaps a distinction can be made between force and violence. But I imagine that wresting a gun away from a madman would probably involve some violent force. As I said, I am not merely a "non-lethalist," but neither would I sit idly by in such a circumstance. But by making the personal choice not to own a gun, and not to actively participate in the military or police force, I am preparing NOT to kill. Preparing NOT to kill is not the same thing as preparing to remain passive in the face of evil. Pacifism is not passive-ism.


Selam

I'm pretty sure that your willingness to use some form of violence, though not a lethal form, technically means that you're not a strict pacifist.


Well, that's OK. I'm much less concerned about the label or the "ism" than I am with seeking Our Lord's will to unconditionally value, respect, honor, and preserve all human life in all of its forms.


Selam
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« Reply #47 on: July 11, 2010, 07:38:36 PM »

As for the scenario put forth in the OP: I would try to forcefully wrest the gun away from the individual intent on killing everyone present. I would use as much force as I needed to try and stop it, but I would not kill. That's why I don't own a gun, because I don't want to kill. But not owning a gun and wedding myself to nonviolence does not mean that I am content to sit back and allow others to be brutalized or murdered in my presence.

Gebre,

This section of your post actually helped me realize something significant to this debate.

You are not a pacifist.

What you are is a non-lethalist.

You were just essentially talking about using violence to stop the murderer. Non-lethal violence, yes. But violence none the less.

But I am always astounded by how people can simultaneously rationalize the necessity of violence to stop the murder of innocent people while they also condmn those who kill abortionists. If violence is ever necessary and justifiable, then there is no cause more worthy of its use than in defense of innocent babies.

I think you might have noticed this, but I am not among that crowd. And it makes me very unpopular. Somehow it is highly less politically correct. I think the same principle could be applied. And if ultimately one were to find that the only reasonable way to stop an abortion doctor from killing more fetuses, I think that lethal force has to be likewise justified.

Yes, there are various degrees of pacifism. Some pacifists assert that it is immoral to spank your children. I am not of that persuasion. However, I am not merely a "non-lethalist" either. I do believe that when He says, "turn the other cheek," we are to interpret Our Words literally.

The most difficult question for the pacifist is how to defend the innocent others. Certainly, inherent in the command to love our neighbor as ourselves is the responsibility to intervene on their behalf when we see them being victimized and oppressed. So, how do we do this? My answer is that we fight non-violently, with prayer, protests, personal sacrifice, placing ourselves in harms way in order to shield the vicitms we are trying to help, etc. But never, ever kill or seek to do bodily harm to the oppressors. Now, this approach may not meet with earthy and temporal success, but it will always be eternally victorious.

I just read a passage tonight from An Unbroken Circle that I found very powerful:

"True meekness is the attribute of one who fully trusts in God and His providence. The person who fully trusts in God is not fighting his own battles. He doesn't take attacks against him personally. God is his advocate, his judge, his jury, and his avenger. The truly meek person knows, like Moses, that if he lives his life in meek submission to God's will, those who fight against him are not fighting him, but God, and He will avenge Himself. Although the oppressor may have waved something in the face of African slaves and their descendents that was labeled 'the Christian duty of meekness,'; true meekness is not a value of the oppressor - it is his worst enemy. It was Pharaoh's worst enemy because the vengeance was the Lord's. Meekness is all-powerful, but it comes at a price, that of living according to the fourfold precepts that Moses demonstrated- not relying on oneself in anything, all-daring trust in God, unceasing prayer, and untiring striving for good."
[An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience "The Challenge of Meekness" by Nun Catherine Weston of St. Xenia Metochion Orthodox Church]


Selam

Why then does the section I bolded sound like you are talking about using non-lethal violence to disarm the gunman?

Perhaps a distinction can be made between force and violence. But I imagine that wresting a gun away from a madman would probably involve some violent force. As I said, I am not merely a "non-lethalist," but neither would I sit idly by in such a circumstance. But by making the personal choice not to own a gun, and not to actively participate in the military or police force, I am preparing NOT to kill. Preparing NOT to kill is not the same thing as preparing to remain passive in the face of evil. Pacifism is not passive-ism.


Selam

I'm pretty sure that your willingness to use some form of violence, though not a lethal form, technically means that you're not a strict pacifist.


Well, that's OK. I'm much less concerned about the label or the "ism" than I am with seeking Our Lord's will to unconditionally value, respect, honor, and preserve all human life in all of its forms.


Selam

Gebre, I'm much more sympathetic to your view knowing this. Previously I had thought that you were a strict pacifist.
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« Reply #48 on: July 12, 2010, 03:38:38 AM »

I'm much less concerned about the label or the "ism" than I am with seeking Our Lord's will to unconditionally value, respect, honor, and preserve all human life in all of its forms.
Gebre, I'm much more sympathetic to your view knowing this. Previously I had thought that you were a strict pacifist.
Agreed.  And the OP goes directly to this point.  Is it not in fact valuing, respecting, honoring, and preserving human life when we condone an armed security force that is willing to protect innocent life by using force?
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« Reply #49 on: July 12, 2010, 05:03:06 PM »

I'm much less concerned about the label or the "ism" than I am with seeking Our Lord's will to unconditionally value, respect, honor, and preserve all human life in all of its forms.
Gebre, I'm much more sympathetic to your view knowing this. Previously I had thought that you were a strict pacifist.
Agreed.  And the OP goes directly to this point.  Is it not in fact valuing, respecting, honoring, and preserving human life when we condone an armed security force that is willing to protect innocent life by using force?


Well, the words in bold are very important. See, I don't believe anyone has the authority to decide who should live and who should die. That is God's authority, not ours. Therefore I believe in unconditionally valuing all human life- even the life of the murderer or oppressor. By trying to protect innocent life through nonviolent force (i.e. not killing and not deliberately causing bodily, psychological, or spiritual injury; and ideally, literally turning the other cheek when we alone are attacked), we demonstrate that we value all human life equally. But once we decide that one life is more worthy of preserving than another, then we make the fundamental moral error that lies at the root of evils such as murder, war, abortion, euthanasia, etc. I believe it is a dangerous thing to presumptuously decide that the lives of some human beings are no longer worth preserving.


Selam
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« Reply #50 on: July 12, 2010, 11:31:08 PM »

Therefore I believe in unconditionally valuing all human life- even the life of the murderer or oppressor.
But by pursuing total pacifism in the situation in the OP, we have in fact accepted conditions to our valuing of human life.  Have we not accepted the conditions set by the murderer, and responded with the idea that however things work out is just fine?

Quote from: Gebre Menfes Kidus
See, I don't believe anyone has the authority to decide who should live and who should die. That is God's authority, not ours.
Agreed.  But by doing nothing are we not validating the authority of the shooter to make that choice?
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« Reply #51 on: July 13, 2010, 01:38:09 AM »

Therefore I believe in unconditionally valuing all human life- even the life of the murderer or oppressor.
But by pursuing total pacifism in the situation in the OP, we have in fact accepted conditions to our valuing of human life.  Have we not accepted the conditions set by the murderer, and responded with the idea that however things work out is just fine?

As Christians, we should never allow evil to dictate the conditions by which we value of human life. ALL human life is sacred and valuable, not by virtue of the human being, but because every human being remains the very image of God. The murderer has decided that some human life is not worthy of preserving; let us not adopt the philosophy of the murderer.

Quote from: Gebre Menfes Kidus
See, I don't believe anyone has the authority to decide who should live and who should die. That is God's authority, not ours.
Agreed.  But by doing nothing are we not validating the authority of the shooter to make that choice?

Again, not killing is not synonymous with doing nothing.


Selam
« Last Edit: July 13, 2010, 01:39:11 AM by Gebre Menfes Kidus » Logged

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